e n i z a g a m VOLUME THREE ISSUE TWO
g n i t a r b cele
d o o h r e t s i S - DEIRDRE SULLIVAN - SARAH CROSSAN -
ine z a g ma
Hi Everyone, EDITORIAL Editor Méabh McDonnell
Co-Editor in charge of Social Media Grainne Coyne
Contributors Teresa Mulhern Kat O'Conner Charlo�e Wood
Here we are at our summer issue (finally)! Sisterhood is the theme for this one, inspired by all of the wonderful women in my life who inspire and educate me daily. These are women who celebrate who they are every day of the year and have taught me so much about being myself and being comfortable in my own skin. These women have supported me through successful ventures and - even more importantly - have given me strength when I haven’t had success. This last year has been filled with many good and exci�ng ventures for me. However, many of those ventures have taken up a lot more mental headspace than I would have thought. This has taken away from my ability to juggle as many balls in the air as I would normally like. I’ve been feeling a sense of disappointment in not doing as much as I normally would expect from myself. But it has been my support system and my wonderful crew of ‘sisters’ who have helped me to acknowledge that I cannot do everything at all �mes. The best that I can do is try to do my best with the �me that I have in each week. I’m adjus�ng to a new chapter in my life - and it’s a brilliant one but it means I have to look at how I approach the other commitments and ambi�ons that I have. And that can be daun�ng.
LAYOUT AND DESIGN
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, which is one of the reasons I wanted to champion this issue as one that heroes sisterhood. Women have an amazing ability to build each other up in support and kindness. O�en we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves. We need our sisters in life and in spirit to remind ourselves to be kind to each other and to not sweat the li�le things.
I’m more grateful than ever for the sisterhood I share with the women in my life. I hope you are too.
Kate Brayden Aisling O' Halloran
REE ISS UE TW O
www.facebook.com/cindersmag Twi�er: @cindersmag cindersmagazine.tumblr.com
Sisterhood All ar�cles and poems are copyright material of the authors. Any reproduc�on without the permission of the author is prohibited.
Cover Im a g e by Gab riel Silv erio
VOLUME THREE ISSUE TWO
FEATURE: OUR HAIR STORIES
FEATURE: BEING THE BIG SISTER
INTERVIEW: DEIRDRE SULLIVAN
30 8 28 32
INTERVIEW: SARAH CROSSAN
FEATURE: WOMEN OF FANDOM DESERVE BETTER
FEATURE: SISTERHOOD IN POP CULTURE
3 CINDERS SAYS � 8 THE WITCHING HOUR � INTERVIEW WITH DEIRDRE SULLIVAN� 12 TELLING OUR HAIR STORIES BY MÉABH MCDONNELL, GRAINNE COYNE AND TERESA MULHERN � 18 SISTERHOOD IN THE IRISH HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: AN INTERVIEW WITH RÓISÍN NÍ HAICÉAD BY KATE BRAYDEN � 20 SISTERHOOD IN POP CULTURE � 24 SONG OF SUMMER BY CHARLOTTE WOOD � 26 DO YOU FEEL WHAT I FEEL BY TERESA MULHERN � 28 THE SWEET LIFE � AN INTERVIEW WITH SARAH CROSSAN � 30 THE HONOUR OF BEING THE BIG SISTER BY KAT O'CONNOR � 32 THE WOMEN OF FANDOM DESERVE BETTER BY MÉABH MCDONNELL � 38 A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO ISL BY AISLING O'HALLORAN � 42 INCREDIBLE HISTORICAL WOMEN � 44 BOOK REVIEW CORNER BY MÉABH MCDONNELL� 48 OUR FAVOURITE QUOTES ABOUT SISTERHOOD
From films to art to music to television, Cinders magazine loáoks at what has us clicking our heels this month…
WE’RE WATCHING Stranger Things 3 Stranger Things is a perennial favourite around Cinders Towers. We cannot get enough of the 80s references, the superpowered girls and the fact that it reminds us deeply of our childhood experience with pop culture. (Even though most of the Cinders team are 90s kids, we grew up in rural Ireland, where 80s pop culture was served out to us as if it was brand new - and we ate it up!) We were so delighted to be able to return to Hawkins, the horror of the Mindflayer, and the wonder that is everyone’s awkward teen romance. Newcomer to the gang, Maya Hawke (aka Robin) was a real scene stealer for us, and we cannot wait to see where her friendship with Steve leads in the future. Veronica Mars Our favourite no-longer-teen detec�ve is back on the streets of Neptune! Leading on from the Kickstarter funded movie, our wonderful narra�ng noir heroine finds herself back in the cesspool that is, Neptune, California. This season sees Veronica tackling the seedy underbelly of the beach town. This season focuses on a single mystery where a serial killer has turned on the spring breakers in Neptune. This season brings the noir, and does the difficult task of taking a character we loved as a teen and brings her right up to the minute with the now.
WE’RE READING Sorcery of Thorns Sorcery of Thorns is the sophomore novel from the wonderful Margaret Rogerson. Rogerson wowed last year with An Enchantment of Ravens, a magical story of fairy tale romance. Sorcery of Thorns takes a similarly single minded heroine but places her in a very different environment. Elisabeth is an appren�ce librarian - but not as you may know them. She guards dangerous grimoires - books that are liable to come to life into dangerous creatures of leather and ink if not cared for properly. When her library is a�acked and Elisabeth is implicated in the act, she is forced from the only home she has ever known, only to team up with sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn - a dangerous young man full of secrets. Sorcery of Thorns is fun and fills a vibrant world with a unique premise. Aimed at what feels like a younger audience than An Enchantment of Ravens, some of the characters were sketched a li�le too thin, but the story is compelling and races through the pages. It s�ll feels as though there is more of this world le� to explore, hopefully Rogerson’s imagina�on will delight us with more delicious fantasy there in the future. A Conjuring of Light The Darker Shade of Magic series is one that has been on my TBR list for a long �me and boy was I glad when I dove in. The wonderfully varied and rich wri�ng of VE Schwab is something that you can absolutely lose yourself in. Her world tells the story of three different Londons - all parts of different universes - which are the home of Kell, a magician who can move between worlds. A Darker Shade of Magic is a series that is filled with memorable characters, swashbuckling adventures and menacing villains. Each of the three books in the series is a different kind of fantasy. The first is an adventure through worlds, a magical fantasy, the second involves a magicians tournament, and the third a swashbuckling race against �me. The series is a wonderful adventure - thief turned magical lady, Lila Bard is one of the best characters I’ve read in years. This is one that you won’t forget in a hurry, a complete fantasy classic. It What with the soon release of the trailers for Stephen King horror flick It:Chapter II, I decided to take a look at the original. Kings wri�ng is razor sharp for this one, exci�ng and takes you right into the minds of the Loser’s club, Bill, Ben, Mike, Stan, Eddie, Richie and of course, the wonder that is Beverly Marsh. If you want to avoid spoiling the sequel, I’d advise against reading this one, as it integrates the children’s story with the adults much much more. The richness of the novel is a wonder to read and the horror has you grabbing your seat at every moment.
WE’RE GOING TO SEE Spiderman: Far from Home Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Holland teaming up is the best thing since Michael Keaton and Tom Holland teamed up. Spiderman: Far From Home, takes all of the best elements of Spiderman: Homecoming and pushes all of it further, with great results. We get to see our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman go from webslinging his way across New York to make his way across Europe while his holiday gets completely derailed by an incredibly well coordinated a�empt to take over the world. Both Tom Holland and Zendaya sell a beau�fully sweet and understated rela�onship between Peter and MJ that fulfills everything we have been missing since the beginning minutes of Spiderman 3!
Midsommer Do you like your summer horror movies to go with your fes�vals? Because we do. Following a young couple on their holiday to a remote Swedish music fes�val Midsommer takes the viewer through a pastel filled horror story that latches on and won’t let go. Despite being a terrifying experience, Midsommer has reminded me of my deep and abiding love for flower crowns.
The Great Hack As people who spend a considerable amount of �me online and on social media, we were glued to Ne�lix’s new documentary detailing the history of Cambridge Analy�ca and how they became so influen�al in the major poli�cal votes over the last few years. It is an o�en terrifying watch, while we see how data has become the most valuable commodity in the world - and how it’s power can be used to influence na�ons.
WE’RE LISTENING TO Six: The Musical I’m a musical fan. A big one. And this is the best thing I’ve heard since Hamilton. I say that totally seriously. Six tells the story of the six wives of Henry VI - through song. The pop infused soundtrack is full of righteous anger and puffed up humour. Each angry wife tells her story in her own words and style and every number is an absolute gem. From Anne Boelyn’s cheerfully unapologe�c ‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ to Jane Seymour’s haun�ng Heart of Stone, the soundtrack is history-meets-spice-girls good! You’ll be humming it from now un�l your next beheading! A total winner. Hadestown From musical to musical, Hadestown is haun�ng and frighteningly beau�ful story of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus goes to the underworld to rescue his fiancée Eurydice. The show takes the greek myths through an old world jazz soundtrack that’s richness just pools in your blood. The musical is based on a concept album by Anias Mitchell, released in 2010 and truly lives up to the sparkly, tragic name.
Compiled by Méabh McDonnell and Grainne Coyne
The Witching Hour -w
Deirdre Sullivan is a joy: to read, to interview, to talk to. She followed up the beautiful Tangleweed and Brine, with the breathtaking Perfectly Preventable Deaths, a gripping and powerful witchy tale. I’VE ALWAYS thought there’s a touch of magic to the Irish rural landscape. Not the kind of magic that is advertised in tourist shops and neon green Celtic Fairy tale books. A deeper, less forgiving type of magic. The landscape comes across as full of memory, the woods sparse and stretching into the sky. Full of untold tales. It’s how I’ve always felt about the place that I came from, even when it was bright and sunny, there was always an element of shadow, something hidden in the shade of the trees. A magic that was just out of sight. Deirdre Sullivan was obviously living in the same rural Ireland as me growing up, because that’s what reading Perfectly Preventable Deaths feels like. Telling the story of Madeline and Caitlin, twins who have moved to small Galway town, Ballyfrann, with their mother and stepfather, it sparkles with witchy brilliance throughout. From the name of the
town, which translates to ‘Hellmouth’ (Buffy fans eat your hearts out) to the mysterious deaths which have plagued young girls from the area – Perfectly Preventable Deaths is an authentically Irish experience of magic, mystery and menace. Just what I was looking for. But for any author, even one as familiar with the magical landscape as Deirdre O’Sullivan, it must be a challenge to take something so rooted in their own sense of home and history and translate it into a novel. For Deirdre Madeline’s story is the culmination of six years of work. “It started out as a NaNoWriMo novel, the same November that Dave Rudden was starting The Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy,” she said, laughing. And even though there was a significant length of time between the book’s beginning and it’s publication, she never felt like the core story changed all that much. “The story didn’t, there’s just a bit more texture to it now. Initially I envisaged it as
a trilogy, and I had left a lot of questions unanswered. “So I added a lot of texture [in editing] and I did a complete from scratch re-write one summer. The voice has changed a little, but the core of their [Madeline and Caitlin’s] relationship is still there.” Countless successful authors have celebrated the benefits of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, held in November, where participants attempt to write a novel in a month). From Rainbow Rowell, to Erin Morgenstern, to Dave Rudden, NaNoW-
I thought – wouldn’t it be great to have a town where everybody was something – where it wouldn’t be a big deal? riMo has led to some of the best books of the last ten years. It was a process that Deirdre felt gave Perfectly Preventable Deaths it’s start. “It was a really good process because the NaNoWriMo gave me a really strong skeleton to put flesh on to,” she said. “I’ve done it three times now, Needlework was a NaNoWriMo book also. I found it a lot easier though when I wasn’t teaching full time. When I was substituting or when I was covering for other teachers, it was much easier
to devote more time to. I don’t think it would be as easy to carve it out now.” Part of the difficulty of NaNoWriMo is the word count. In order to hit the 50,000 word count that deems a ‘novel’, writers need to write on average about 1200 words a day. This can be a daunting task, especially if someone is trying to balance work alongside the novel. “I really like the intensity and the focus of it, and I think you can get really good results or at least a really good start from it. You do have to find a way to carve out moments where you aren’t exhausted though.” When approaching a book in that way, authors have to have a really clear inspiration for where the novel is going. The same was true for Deirdre when she was beginning, Perfectly Preventable Deaths. “It [the inspiration] came from a few things, I was talking to my husband about it at one stage, we were talking about dark gritty reboots and said I loved the Munsters [look it up - Ed]. Because every person in that family was something, and I thought – wouldn’t it be great to have a town where everybody was something – where it wouldn’t be a big deal?” Many of the residents of Ballyfrann have long histories, of magic and mayhem. But it’s a secret that only those who have lived in the town are privvy to. That’s what makes Madeline’s position so difficult when she arrives and starts looking for answers. “I suppose it’s similar to cultural or sexual identity,” Deirdre said, “with people’s secrets you need to build up
trust before people share who they are with you. Which is why, Madeleine is an outsider so she isn’t privy to a lot of the things that are going on around her.”
have a crush on. Or the homework you have to do, or if your mum is going to be angry with you, because you don’t stop being a person once you start being a hero.”
Madeline is faced with the difficulty of being in a new place where there are secrets that she doesn’t understand, and at the same time struggling with Caitlin’s increasingly dependent relationship on her new boyfriend Lon, who Madeline doesn’t like. This was a key theme for Deirdre when she started writing. “I was also thinking what if Twilight happened for real? What would that look like? Because vampires are serial killers.” –We shared a massive chuckle over this one.
That concept, you don’t stop being a person once you start being a hero is something that powers some of our favourite authors, from Laini Talor to Leigh Bardugo. Madeline still has a crush on the seemingly perfect Oona, even while she’s attempting to save her sister and work some basic witchcraft. “Poor Madeleine and Oona!”, Deirdre laughed, “I think Madeline has Oona on such a high pedestal. And I think that’s what we do with unrequited love because when love is requited that’s when you get to fully know the other person, rather than your idea of the person.” The queer romance is handled with sensitivity and care and really helps us to identify with Madeline and her struggles in this new place, with these new people.
“But here were also the influences of things that I really, really, liked as well,” she continued, “Like I’m a big Sweet Valley High fan and that seems to have come through (and this was all unconscious! I’m not aware I’m doing this, until someone points it out to me afterwards!). There’s a nerdy, shy twin and there’s also this super out-going twin who is also a little bit mean. And there’s also this tone of Buffy which I adore. Things are character driven, so even if the world is ending or something really awful is happening, you’re still going to be worried about the person you
One of the most wonderful details of Perfectly Preventable Deaths is the involvement of the parents in the plot - no squirreling them away for convenient moments of heroism or escape from school. If you’re looking for your fill of the contemporary witch, then look no further than Mamó - who brings a witchy
outlook to homeopathy. “The core of all the characters was there in the earlier drafts. It was more texture that I brought to it later on. In the earlier drafts I knew what was going on a lot longer than Madeleine did and everything got really crazy all at the end. I kind of wanted to colour in early scenes early on where Mamó does things that are not what a homeopath would do, things that point to her being a witch.”
l. I had this idea that they were all things littering Mamo’s house but weren’t just from her but also from the people who came before her. The brilliant witchy feel is everywhere throughout Perfectly Preventable Deaths, from the descriptions of Ballyfran, to the themes of the story, to the little bits of herb lore that open every chapter. There are wonderful descriptions like: Primrose: for ardent love and headaches that pull the reader that much further into the incredible world. “That came in about draft three. I always had ideas of jam jars, that in Mamo’s house there would be loads of jam jars full of herbs with labels that identified them. I thought there would be some labels from the witches who came before. That’s why some of the descriptions are more based on folklore and others are more medicine based.
Some use more arcane terms and others are more practical. It’s to reflect the individual who wrote the label. I had this idea that they were all things littering Mamo’s house but weren’t just from her but also from the people who came before her.” It’s an incredible detail that truly plays into the moment in the spotlight that witches seem to be having right now. Deirdre laughed at the converging thought process that seems to have brought on this season of the witch in YA literature. “YES! They really are! Specifically Irish witches, which I’m really into. Myself, Sarah Maria Griffin and Moira Fowley Doyle are releasing or have released Irish, witchy, twin books this year. And it’s very exciting, because they’re two of my favourite writers and obviously I wrote about this stuff because I’m interested in it. I’m dying to read, Moira’s All the Bad Apples and I loved Other Words for Smoke. It’s so funny that all of those formative things came together, we’re all around the same age, and we’re all growing up in different versions of the same Ireland.” The power of magic and herb lore throughout this Ireland of the present is something that we are seeing more and more in literature for teenagers and adults. We are re-examining the knowledge of older people and of generations that came before us in new, magical, ways. If you’re like me, you’re still hoping to find something in the shadows of the woods at the bottom of the garden. Perfectly Preventable Deaths is the ideal
Telling our hair stories Our hair, no mattter its length, texture or colour, is an integral part of our identities. Cindersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; MĂŠabh McDonnell, Grainne Coyne and Teresa Mulhern share thier memorable hair stories from childhood and beyond.
– Méabh’s Story Mary Jane Watson, Jean Grey, Ginny Weasley, Batwoman, April O’Neill. You might say that redheads are over represented in media and comic books. But when I was younger, I didn’t know that. I just knew that they were confident and powerful. They were my superheroes - because they looked like me.
I’m a redhead. My hair has always been my most distinctive feature. Inherited from my maternal grandmother, it has always been the thing that people comment on about my appearance, whether for good or ill. It’s never been a feature I’ve disliked - except from ages four to five when my favourite Power Ranger was the Yellow Ranger, and I wanted black hair like her - I’ve always been a redhead and proud. I always liked how unique my hair was, how the colour is one that is rare, (even with in Ireland where it is more prevalent than most of the world), and how it is one part of my appearance that I’ve never wanted to change. That being said, it doesn’t mean that my hair hasn’t been the source of some of my biggest insecurities. For one thing - as a woman in today’s society - my hair makes me feel seen. And not in a good way. It’s colour makes me noticeable the minute that I step out on the street, and every catcall I receive, shout from a random car, or comment from a stranger to ‘smile’ I tense up. I feel afraid and a million worst-case scenarios start to go through my head. It has never felt, and will never feel like a compliment, when I’ve drawn the attention of someone. It makes you feel scrutinized, but also sexualised. Whether it’s by older men sayin, ‘how’ya ginger?’ Because they don’t know your name or by a random teenager on the street at night shouting that I’m a ‘Ginger bitch’ both have happened to me more than once, and both make me instantly tense up. And I know as a white straight sized woman that I am speaking from a place of privilege. This is not a norm for me and my hair is one of the few features I have that results in this kind of treatment.
But it does happen and it never feels good. It’s moments like those that make me regret my hair because I often wonder if were I blonde or brunette I would attract the same kind of attention. Hair is a tricky thing, it’s something we’re aware of from the youngest age, it’s the first thing strangers will tell us looks pretty and it is the first part of a girl’s appearance she learns to have an influence over herself - whether by brushing, tying up, or cutting with a stray scissors! Our hair forms a massive part of our identity and when we are young the extra attention that it may bring to us from other children is often negative. When I was between 10 and 12 we were brought on school swimming lessons. We would be separated in to girls and boys to shower after and before the lesson. As I got older - abs started to develop pubic hair - I dreaded these dressing room moments. Especially after we were done swimming, becuase I had to change from my suit into my underwear and I was terrified that the other girls would see me without my clothes. I used to dress behind a towel, carefully, hidden. But I’ve never been particularly graceful. It happened on one occasion that my towel dropped, revealing me to the whole changing room. I can still hear the quiet giggles that started up, looking at me. The voice of a single girl shouting out, ‘God Méabh, it’s like your privates are on fire!’ Because my pubic hair was red. I remember feeling even more ashamed than I had been before. Ashamed of the hair on my body and something I had no control over. It was put up for ridicule and shame - because it was different, and taboo. And it’s something that I’ve never forgotten. As I got older the way that my hair looked posed the frequent mocking question, ‘Oh,
Cinders Méabh, do the curtains match the carpet?’ I didn’t know what it meant the first time. I did afterwards. In recent years, we’ve changed the way that we look at hair. People are promoting the idea that we are acceptable with our curves, with our stretch marks, with our cellulite and with our body hair. I hope other young redheads have different experiences to mine. Many redheads I’ve spoken to have similar stories, names that they have hated and stories about being teased and name-called for their hair. Ultimately, most embrace the red hair for what it is - just another feature that makes up you. But for that reason, I’m grateful for the Jean Greys, the Mary Jane Watsons, the April O’Neills, the Amy Adams and the Isla Fishers - because they make having red hair a superpower. They helped to make me proud of how I look and who I am. It’s something that speaks to the power of representation and why we need more heroes that look like more of the young women in our society. Because, hopefully, if we see more women of colour, women with disabilities and women of different sexualities featured in our pop culture stories, they’ll look at themselves in the mirror, and feel like superheroes too.
– Gráinne’s Story “Hair is everything, we wish it wasn’t so we could actually think about something else occasionally. But it is.” This quote is from the mind of the great Phoebe Waller Bridge of Fleabag. Phoebe is the same genius behind Killing Eve, and this excerpt(performed by Bridge herself) is part of Fleabag’s relatable monologue about hair to her sister’s hairdresser. It’s relatable, because we want to believe hair doesn’t matter, but deep down, without question, it accumulates to and reflects a lot. For me, my relationship with hair IT WAS my pride and glory, since as long as I can remember mostly everyone complimented my long, brunette locks that as child, often reached my behind. I aspired to have Disney Princess style length hair blowing carelessly in the wind. So imagine everyone’s shock at the age of 6, when I decided to chop off my long locks with my mother’s scissors, on the day my brother got his leaving cert results, no less. Everyone was horrified, but they were looking at me. Yes, I was that child. However, the commentaries as to why my hair was so short got so annoying that I vowed to never cut it again. This changed when I reached secondary school, where I felt so lonely and out of place, and of course the only solution to this was to cut my hair. So began a pattern and strange relationship with my hair. With every change, every insecurity, a new hair style came with it. This only deepened by college and into my 20’s, where I became more determined to change and dye my hair style, even more dramatically. I wanted jet, black hair and a full thick fringe, instead, I compromised with red tinted hair, and half thick fringe. But as I got older, came even more changes. I went from full thick fridge, side fridge, Emo style look, with the longest allowance being just above shoulder length. Of course during this time was ever shade of red going. Each style reflected dark times and an attempt, to feel in control. I may not be able to control of other aspects of my life, but at least I could control my hair. Around my mid-twenties, which is up there where I took the most dramatic turn with
my hair. I chopped a lot of it off and chose to go blonde, balayage. It’s no surprise that this hair style, matched one of the biggest transitions in my life, finally to taking the leap into acting. It was also the last time I dyed my hair. But nothing prepared for what was ahead two years later. It was something that I had never even considered, and changed dramatically about how I felt about my hair. That something was head lice. At 27 I got my first, really, a whole summer dose of head lice. I managed to avoid it as a child, even when it spread throughout my primary school and class. But it hadn’t escaped me completely, because a week of babysitting in the summer caused me to get it. Despite everyone’s insistences that it was not possible, my sister’s confirmation of seeing bugs crawling through my hair, ruined every shred of confidence I felt about my scalp and hair.
Each style reflected dark times and an attempt, to feel in control. I may not be able to control of other aspects of my life, but at least I could control my hair.
From there on my hair would stay up and never down, and with that grew my paranoia. I would wake up in the middle of the night, convinced I could feel insects crawling through my hair. My hair being as long and thick as it is, made it heaven for lice, and as a result, I had to rely on my mother to comb through it and to put on the disgusting lice treatment. It was humiliating, and even though my friends understood, I stopped socializing. It didn’t help me through a depressing period I was going through, and it was there, I suddenly realized, how much I took my hair for granted. How much power was in my hair for me. That it was not just there to boost my confidence, but it was protection, it was my shield, and during that summer it was a part of me I felt I had lost. Even though I went through different periods of having lice that summer, somehow eventually, we found something that worked and eventually by September, it was gone. But my confidence took a while to return, and to be honest, years on, paranoia still kicks in. Since then I’ve let it grow, and as a result it’s now half way down my back, and returned to my natural brown colour. Even with this, I don’t plan on cutting it or dying it anytime soon. I feel ok with it.
From chopping it all off as a child to getting lice at 27, it was in those moments that I truly realized how much I loved my hair. Now, looking back on my hair journey, I think I realize my own value of my hair, and not others commentaries on it. How I usually wanted my hair to be the opposite of what others perceived it to be, especially at my most insecure. Because I didn’t want to be seen in that way, and thought my hair can help me show what I wanted to be. Sometimes it did, but in reality as much as I wanted to my hair wanted to change things, it didn’t. It had to be down to me, and I got there. But my hair was part of the journey and at times, it rightfully reflected everything.
– Teresa’s Story WHEN I was about 5 years old, I was completely enamoured with fairy tales and immersed myself in all things magical. A particular goal of mine was to emulate the heroines within these tales – I would read like Belle, be as fair as Snow White and have hair like Rapunzel (the ultimate hair goal). At this point, I was reading voraciously, already had pale skin and was attempting to grow out my hair to achieve these goals. On a Summer’s day my mother informed me that we were going
into town but failed to provide any details (a stealthy parental move on her part) and I got into the car armed with a book. To my 5-yearold horror, we arrived outside a local hairdressing salon and I was ushered inside the doors. I pleaded with the hairdresser not to cut my hair, or (if she must) to only cut a small amount. As is typical of hairdressers within the 90’s era, she entirely ignored my fervent requests and I was left with a very short bob. I was beyond heartbroken and cried all of the way home while swearing that I would never forgive my mother for her treachery (not in those words, because I was only 5). Almost a quarter of a century on and I have forgiven her (only just) and have found myself growing my hair out yet again. However, I highly doubt that I would lend my locks towards a mans’ makeshift grappling hook – that’s where split ends come from!
@whatacait and @r0_is_in
Sisterhood in the Irish healthcare system: Róisín Ní Haicéid
For Kate Brayden, one of the biggest influences in her college experience has been her relationship with activist Róisín Ní Haicéad. Kate spoke to Róisín about her experience with sisterhood in the Irish healthcare system. From one chronic pain sister to another, illness should never encompass an Irish woman’s identity. As rising activist Róisín Ní Haicéid shows, surviving chronic illness is often only one brick in the tower of inspiration which a person can be. I first met Róisín in my time volunteering for the Trinity College Dublin branch of St. Vincent de Paul, where she became the activity leader for the Social Justice club and achieved countless wonderful things, while simultaneously campaigning to end Direct Provision and for the right to housing. Described by anyone
who knows her as sunny and warm, she has had to mature incredibly fast for someone who is only 20-years-old. She passionately advocates for the most vulnerable in our society, while proving that her physical vulnerability has created a steel-like strength within her spirit. Despite living through a complex disorder named Cauda Equina Syndrome & Complex Scoliosis, she somehow uses her experience to focus on those around her who may need her help, and the ‘othered’ of society. She’s my Girl Boss inspiration, and soon she’ll be yours too.
What does ‘sisterhood’ mean to you?
I never understood the importance of real-life representation and the benefits of having a network of people like you until the first Disabled Women Ireland meet up where we went for brunch. I had the first conversation with anyone other than Orthotists about which (non-ugly) shoes are compatible with AFO splints. It’s such a simple example and may seem trivial to some people but having people in your life who just get you because they are like you, is invaluable.
Sisterhood to me means a common understanding of each other through shared or similar experiences. It means teaching and learning from one another; a crucial goal and result of sisterhood is empowerment. Why is sisterhood so valuable for minorities in our society? I think that sisterhood is born out of a shared struggle, be that for migrants, sex workers, women of colour, disabled women, trans women etc. To have a group, where you are understood, heard and have a sense of belonging is so important to people who live on the margins of mainstream society, who feel “othered” so often.
Do you think Irish women have a different meaning for the term ‘sisterhood’ when it comes to our health? As I said, sisterhood is heavily born from a shared struggle, and women in every country have their own specific struggles. I feel like sisterhood is solidified through movements like Repeal - creating groups like MERJ or Disabled Women Ireland. I think the
fight for repeal united many groups from migrants to disabled people and through the fight, we all understand each other more and have a more unified identity as the women of Ireland. Have you any specific examples of sisterhood moments you have witnessed during your struggles with your health? When I was seventeen I was admitted to the National Rehabilitation Hospital for a few months. I was still a kid, away from my family and friends in a ward of 17 where I was the youngest by around 20 years. I was really taken under the wing of all the women in my ward but two in particular, Marita and Paula. They both were the saving grace of my time in rehab and pivotal people in my life. I found mornings the hardest, I was exhausted all the time from all the physiotherapy and I slept really badly - there was a lot of snorers in that room of 17, let me tell you. Also every morning I would re-realise that my legs were f*cked; I’d forget when I was sleeping and be dreaming about cycling to a house party or sailing or something and then when I’d wake up in a hospital, having to log roll and lug each leg out of the bed. Suddenly I’d have this huge sense of disappointment. Anyway, I was really bad at getting
I owe it to myself to keep going.
out of bed for the 7am breakfast in the canteen. Marita would draw the curtains around my bed and force me out of the bed. I was in rehab from January to April and my Leaving Certificate exams were taking place that June. She’d literally gather up my past papers from the desk beside my bed and send me off for an hour or two into the medical student library. The relationship I had with these two women was the first time I ever had been treated as a peer by adults, I got all the relationship advice I could ever ask for, all the dirty jokes and spare smokes, and the tough stuff too, helping with all my paperwork, and through them I learnt how to navigate the world of medical misogyny that we all literally inhabited. Can you explain a little about how important your body is to you as a woman? When I was talking about sisterhood in relation to Disabled Women Ireland (DWI), something that kept coming to mind is the importance of knowing people who look like you. Whenever I see a girl my age with a walking stick (can count it on one hand) my heart jumps. Representation of different bodies is so great to see online but seeing bodies and mobility aids relatable to you in real life is on a whole other level of empowerment. My body has changed so much through the past 6 years of surgeries and is now home to many scars, muscle atrophy and asymmetry. Learning to accept (still working on loving), those parts of me has been fast-forwarded by the friends I’ve made in the past year whose bodies also fit outside of the “norm”.
@aoifbreen2.0 and @r0_is_in
Are there any ‘girl bosses’ relating to disability activism who inspire you? Jesus, literally every single person I’ve met through DWI. So many online as well. Alice Wong, one of the founders of #CripTheVote is my absolute hero. @ErinUnleashes on Instagram has been huge in my journey with body positivity and sexuality. What kept you going during the hardest moments in your health journey? Myself. I owe it to myself to keep going.
Sisterhood in pop culture
Here in Cinders we love our sisters in blood and spirit. And we love watching them on our TV screens and movies! Here are just a few of our favourite examples of sisterhood in books and onscreen.
ANN AND LESLIE - PARKS AND REC Can we really talk about sisterhood if we don’t mention Leslie and Ann? Never was there a friendship so pure - or a show that celebrated the friendship between women so much. Leslie and Ann fight, give eachother advice and love each other so deeply that it’s palpable. (Ann’s exit from the show remains my number one saddest moment.) The two women constantly celebrate each other’s achievements and successes and never look down on each other. (This is the friendship that most often reminds me of the sisterhood I have with my friends. - Ed)
MARRIANNE AND ELINOR - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY Marianne and Elinor are two characters who are always presented as polar opposites - one has sense, the other has ‘sensibility’ (an 18th century way of saying she was a more emotional, passionate personality). And while Marianne is presented as the more flighty of the two, Austen goes to great pains to highlight what is important about both sisters personalities - and the flaws. The two sisters are loyal to a fault and support eachother through life in their new home. The two sisters are one of the earliest examples of two opposites who definitely work well together.
REBECCA AND PAULA (AND VALENCIA AND HEATHER) –CRAZY EX- GF Crazy Ex Girlfriend may have begun as a romcom, but the true love story of this series was always the friendships that Rebecca found along the way. From the beautiful partnership with Paula, to the development of Heather and Valencia into her group, Rebecca may not have found a romance on the series, but she found a family in those women. If you have an entire number about the wonderful magical land that your friendship lives in can you really deny the wonder that is the friendships on this show.
THE LADIES OF GLOW GLOW returns to Netflix this month and boy are we excited. Though thick and thin this motly group of ladies who love to wrestle have had some of the biggest and best fights, all the while fostering a true sense of sisterhood throughout. We’ve loved watching Ruth and Debbie work through their issues, and come together as friends along the way. We can’t wait to see more from these gorgeous ladies.
GAMORA AND NEBULA – MCU Gamora and Nebula haven’t had the smoothest of relationships, but theirs is a world ending sisterhood. Both women are fierce, powerful and incredibly strong. The daughters of world-ender Thanos fight with and for eachother like no one else and are our favourite examples of sisterhood done right in the MCU.
KAT, JANE AND SUTTON - THE BOLD TYPE Kat, Jane and Sutton may not be related but they are proof that the people who become your friends can be closer than sisters in some cases! The three girls are the epitome of a ‘forgive all’ friendship. They fight for eachother to be recognised in their jobs at Scarlett magazine and they support each other at every turn. If there were ever friendship goals it’s these three fabulous ladies.
MAX AND ELEVEN – STRANGER THINGS 3 It’s no secret that we love all things Stranger Things- however up until this season, there was a distinct lack of the girls teaming up to hang out - until Eleven and Max became the best of friends this season! Cue happy dances from all of us here in Cinders. Max and Eleven have often been the two most badass characters on the show and it’s been great to see them bond more, Eleven needs more ladies in her life!
WILLOWDEAN,ELLEN MILLE AND HANNAH – DUMPLIN’ With a friendship that’s held together by the wonder that is Dolly Parton , Willowdean Dickson and her best friend Ellen are just a wonder to watch, the two girls have a sisterhood that reaches far back into their childhoods and is cemented by their shared love of Dolly Parton. Throw in the friendship expanding to include feminist Hannah and the enthusiastic and sincere Millie and you have a squad that is total #goals. Dumplin’ is worth watching for the excellent friendships alone.
Song of Summer
By Charlotte Wood
THERE is a type of magic that the sun weaves for a na�on of people who have forgo�en its language. Other places know its siren song and they warn their children. But you forgot how to understand because why would you remember? You’ve been living in the grey underground for so long. But the summer is growing now, here, and your worship fuels it. Your skin turns redder and deeper. You think, you think you are beginning to understand the song of the summer. You hear phrases that are repeated and turn the shape of the words over in your mind. They seep into your bones and you can't get the rhythm out. You don't want to, either. You like it. The warmth of the summer is inside you now too.
The people on the bus stop standing near you, you radiate heat. You stop no�cing people, stop turning up to work. You're too busy listening to the song of the summer, hearing its siren call. You offer up your body on a funeral pyre and feel the fiery arms of the sun reach out to claim you. You understand the song at last, you hear the words and know their meaning. You can go back now, back to your life and carry the words of the summer around with you. You can hold them close to your chest and smile and when people ask you what you're smiling The words burn you, over and over again.
Cinders They are not meant to be held by one person, but you are not a person any more, not now you have sacrificed yourself to the summer. You are rewarded with the knowledge and the burning; you taste it on your tongue and stop yourself from singing the song out loud. You sing it to yourself very quietly instead. You whisper it to people who give you disapproving looks on public transport and watch as the sweat beads on their foreheads. You whisper it to the people huddled under awnings of the pubs and the bars and you watch them loosen their �es and laugh a bit louder and take off their jackets. You whisper it to the gardens, to the spots of green you found and watch the green turn to gold. You learnt the song of the summer, the best summer, the ho�est summer, and now you will never forget it.
Charlo�e Wood works in a law firm by day and by night she is in the process of pitching out her first novel which is YA fantasy.
DO YOU FEEL WHAT I FEEL?
Cinder's resident Psychologist, Dr Teresa Mulhern, tells us about resaearch into pain and how different people may feel pain differently. THERE are few things in life that are truly universal – unfortunately, pain has always been considered to be one of these universal experiences. Are there excep�ons to this rule? Recently, a woman from Scotland, Jo Cameron, was iden�fied as being one of only two people in the en�re world who has a rare gene�c muta�on meaning that she doesn’t experience pain, fear or anxiety. Her case is so rare that it was recently published in the Bri�sh Journal of Anaesthesia. She has outlined that the only way that she knows that she has burned her skin, is the smell of singed flesh and she has never had to take painkillers in her life – including during childbirth. While this may seem like a “great deal”, pain serves a purpose and lets us know when we have pushed our bodies too hard or when we may have damaged our bodies – such as third degree burns or broken bones. However, Doctors Cox and Srivastava of the University College of London believe that Jo’s case may be beneficial towards developing treatments for post-opera�ve pain, chronic pain and even post-trauma�c stress disorder. There are addi�onal instances of insensi�vity to pain, including a disorder known as Congenital Insensi�vity to Pain or Congenital Analgesia which means that an individual with this disorder cannot even perceive this painful sensa�on and cannot describe the intensity or type of pain. This condi�on means that a person cannot feel and has never felt physical pain.
Cinders Although a person with this condi�on can feel touch, they do not always feel temperature, which has major implica�ons for condi�ons such as frostbite and burns. As pain is one of our bodies “alarm bells” which lets us know that something is physically wrong and we must respond, if a person does not have this ability, they are at a higher risk of more severe health issues such as severely fractured bones, bi�ng off their own tongue or severe skin damage. As pain is a vital component of human survival, a significant por�on of individuals with Congenital Insensi�vity to Pain die within childhood due to illnesses or injuries going unnoticed. Pain insensi�vity is not just limited to the above cases and is, in some instances, considered to be a specified diagnos�c condi�on for sensory abnormali�es in au�sm spectrum condi�on. More recently, Sarah Vaughan of John Moores University in Liverpool and the University of Chester has explored this phenomenon in her own research. Sarah examined sensi�vity to pain using a known set of pain tests, including the cold pressor task, in which a par�cipant submerges their hand within cold water (approximately 2º Celsius) un�l they can no longer tolerate this. She assessed this across individuals with a known diagnosis of au�sm and across individuals without a diagnosis. She discovered that although a greater percentage of individuals with au�sm may demonstrate atypical pa�erns of pain response, this may actually be within a range that is similar to the pa�erns of pain responses demonstrated by individuals without a diagnosis of au�sm. Interes�ngly, within her research one individual with au�sm demonstrated a paradoxical experience of pain – rather than feeling a cold temperature when moving from a hot to cold temperature, they actually experienced a hot sensa�on when exposed this temperature reduc�on. Sarah examined addi�onal factors within her work, including light touch detec�on and mechanical pain and these can be found within her recently published paper within the Journal of Au�sm and Developmental Disorders. So, is a “stabbing pain” always a “stabbing pain” – or do people experience these things differently? Only further research will sufficiently uncover the answer to that question.
Although a person with this condition can feel touch, they do not always feel temperature, which has major implications for conditions such as frostbite and burns.
The Sweet Life
Carnegie medal winner, and Laureate na nÓg, Sarah Crossan, has made a name for herself the world over with her beautiful verse novels. Her latest novel, Toffee, tells a beautiful story of friendship between a young girl , Alison and an older woman, Marla, who only recocnisees her as ‘Toffee’, her former best friend. It’s a beautiful tale of beauty in adversity and how we can find home in the most surprising of places. Méabh McDonnell spoke to Sarah about her latest release.
Cinders Where did Toffee come from, what was the first thing you remember inspiring you to write the story? The story came from Toffee’s name really. I wanted to write a book about a girl called Toffee and I wondered what she might be like and I realised she would be sweet, hard, with the ability to break teeth. And I wanted my book to be about women – how we can save one another, how tough we can be despite the odds, and from that Marla was born. Allison and Marla’s friendship comes from an unusual place, did you find it challenging to understand and represent their bond? I accepted very early on in the writing that this was a story about a friendship based on equality and compassion – both women are broken or breaking and all they need is a person to see them as they truly are. That’s the gift they give one another – looking and understanding without judgement. Your verse novels approach storytelling in a very unique way, do you write the poems in order, or do you plot out high points of the story first? The first poem I wrote is called ‘I Am Toffee’ on page 35. This was the key to everything. And then I wrote around that poem. Verse is never written in a linear way; I always write out of order and arrange them later on. Your stories tend to focus on individuals with a different perspective on the world, is there a reason for that? We are all searching for love and belonging no matter who we are. That’s what all my books are about. You are the current Laureate na nÓg in Ireland, what has been the most valuable part of the experience so far? I’ve had an opportunity to meet some incredible young people who have not only connected to poetry but inspired me to be braver and better. I always feel so impressed by teenagers.
Ger H o
Can you name 5 poets you believe every young person should read? Only five? Ok. Try these: Kate Tempest, Colm Keegan, Andrew McMillan, Kwame Alexander, Mary Oliver.
Can you explain more about the #wearethepoets movement? What do you believe is the value in poetry writing? There is the same value in writing poetry as in dancing (as Marla does) or singing or painting. The #WeAreThePoets project is intended to invite everyone, whatever age, back to reading, writing and performing poetry without snobbery. Poetry can be whatever you want it to be. Just use your own voice authentically.
Cinders regular, Kat O'Conner, tells us what sisterhood means to her, and the bone deep connection she feels with both of her sisters. I became a big sister for the first �me on August 22, 1996. I had just celebrated my second birthday and four days later I got the gi� of a life�me; a baby sister.
When my sisters were babies all I wanted to do was cuddle them (except for when they were crying!).
On August 25, 2000, exactly a week a�er my 6th birthday, I became a big sister again.
When they started playschool, I wanted to go with them and help make them make jigsaws
I remember the day I met my youngest sister Niamh for the first �me, mainly because my dad bought me a packet of Smar�es in the hospital shop, but also because the scale of what had happened made more sense to me than it did when my sister Claire was born. This �ny li�le baby who was wrapped up in a wooly cardigan and whose face was as red as a strawberry was my sister. There’s so much responsibility that comes with being the eldest sister. All you want to do is protect your siblings and make sure they’re always okay, but then there are days when you just want to hide away from them.
When they went to primary school, I was happy to have two familiar faces wearing the same red geansaí as me. When they a�ended secondary school, I couldn’t help but worry about them, their exam results and their hopes for the future. I love being a big sister, but those early years whizzed by in the blink of an eye. One minute you’re making up dance rou�nes to Hannah Montana songs on the balcony of your holiday apartment and the next you’re stressing out because it is 4 am and your 18-year-old sister is s�ll out clubbing.
I’ve certainly had my fair share of fights with my sisters through the years. There have been major arguments that resulted in us not speaking for years, silly �ffs over stolen Club Milks and shampoo, and then pointless rows that are forgo�en within minutes. They may ‘borrow’ my clothes, always make me pay for take-aways and laugh at me for crying over Glee so much, but there is nothing I treasure more than our sisterhood. It is incredible to know that I have two friends for life, who have been part of nearly every chapter of my life. There are days when they drive me crazy. There are �mes when we call one another names so nasty you couldn’t dare repeat them. There were �mes when we ignored each other, disliked each other and distanced ourselves from one another, but regardless of all those nega�ve moments, we always figure things out because it is our duty to be there for one another, especially in �mes of need. I’ll always be there to defend my sisters, to protect them and to stand up for them. I’ll be there to support them at gradua�ons. I’ll be there to sing happy birthday, wish them a merry Christmas and offer my congratula�ons on their wedding days.
I’ll be there to guide them around ci�es on our next holiday (even if Paris was a nightmare at �mes.) I’ll be there to help pick out debs dresses, college courses, holiday des�na�ons, first apartments and baby names. I’ll be there to help mend broken hearts, to cheer them up on their low days and to ease their nerves on momentous days. I’ll con�nue to introduce them to movies like My Best Friend’s Wedding. I’ll probably always roll my eyes when they watch Love Island. I’ll more than likely be dedica�ng future novels to them (a girl can dream.) I’ll always be their second-mammy, their personal photographer and their biggest fan. And I’ll always be their big sister. “The best thing about having a sister was that I always had a friend.”
The women of fandom deserve better: An essay Here in Cinders fandoms are some of the things we are most passionate about. It delights us to no end how many science fiction and fantasy stories that are making their way into the mainstream. This year is seeing us draw to the close of two of the biggest franchises the world has ever seen, namely Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame. And not everyone was happy. Editor, Méabh McDonnell, talks through the stories and how she feels the women could have been better served. We spent years asking for it, asking for interesting , strong, independent, powerful women for our fandoms. And we got them. In these worlds and industries so frequently gatekeeper-ed (yes, I just made up that word) by men, it has been one of our shining delights to see progress. To see characters like Captain Marvel get their own movies. To hear that boys in school yards are arguing that she’s the most powerful Avenger. To see amazing characters like Okoye and Shuri get the recognition they deserve. To see that fantasy shows are making way for women in power, rather than sparkly dresses. (Although the day I get the girl who is powerful and gets to wear sparkles wherever she chooses is the day we have won folks!) But we’re making changes, and we’re seeing more women in these franchises. More importantly, we’re seeing more women of colour and LGBTQIA women too. A lot of this is to do
with the increasing number of women behind the cameras and the drawing pens. We’re not saying we haven’t been making changes. We have. And it’s been great to have those characters to root for. To get excited at more than just the love story - because that was the only part of the story we were given! - has been so refreshing. Which is why the endings of franchises such as Game of Thrones and Marvel’s current Phase 3 closer, Endgame, were so disappointing in terms of the way they served their women. Now, the MCU has spent the last three months attempting to make us forget that Endgame undervalued its women by announcing the Black Widow movie release date, a female Thor and making a Mary Jane Watson so wonderfully relatable and cool that we all
Cinders want to be her best friend. But I do not forget Endgame and just how frustrated I was by the way it treated first, Black Widow, and by extension, all of its other female characters. I enjoyed Endgame as a closer to a series of movies I’ve now been following for more than 10 years, I liked that we focused on Tony Stark and Cap and that they got their Big Damn Endings. But I still believe that Natasha Romanov was underserved by a Pokémon style ‘gotta get ‘em all’ script that overtly capitalised on how much audiences love the plot of Back to the Future II (just think about it for a few seconds…). Natasha Romanov is killed off in what is supposed to be a moment of glory - not halfway through the movie - where she faces off against her long time partner Clint Barton in a battle of ‘who deserves to die more’. Black Widow wins, because Clint,
despite turning into a full on murderer vigilante during the snap, has a family at home waiting for him. This culminates in the nail in the coffin of Black Widow’s character and her belief that because she can’t have children she is some kind of ‘monster’. I think my eyerolls were so loud they were audible during that part of Age of Ultron. Black Widow’s death is something we’re supposed to see as deeply moving and tragic. Without her death, they wouldn’t have been able to un-do the snap and change the world. So that’s great right? Wrong. Black Widow is a character that the men of Marvel have never seemed to know what to do with. Despite Scarlett Johansson’s great work with not much to play with, she’s almost always a poorly written archetype. She’s either the exasperated femme fatale of Iron Man 2, the heartcrossed lover of Age of Ultron, the voice of reason in Civil War and the sacrificial lamb of Endgame.
The movie which best shows us what Natasha Romanov can do is the first Avenger’s outing, and even then she doesn’t get half the development that she deserves. She’s the one who figures out Loki’s plan, she gets the scepter back, she also is the head recruiter for the Hulk and the person who successfully turns Clint Barton back. We also get to see her in brilliant buddy-cop mode in Winter Soldier with Captain America. We get to see her be funny, clever, frustrated and kind in those movies. We know that Natasha Romanov is more than just a cool character, it’s just that not many people in the MCU executive writing staff seemed to be paying attention to that. Instead, we were treated to a rushed death scene and a coda where she was only mourned by a single character, as if she hadn’t been
an integral part of the whole team. I’m not arguing that Black Widow shouldn’t have died. Having your character die is practically a rite of passage for Marvel heroes. However I do think her death should have been more than a solution to a plot hole. It should have been more than an attempt at a moment of pathos - giving them all a reason to fight, á la the first Avenger’s treatment of Agent Coulson. It should have been given the same weight and pathos as that of Tony and Cap - because she was just as much a part of the team as they were. And no matter how many pandering ‘I am no man’ style female character team-up scenes the MCU throws my way I won’t forget that for the majority of the movie, they treated their original female Avenger terribly. And they didn’t feel the need to include the other ladies very much either.
Thank goodness for female anti-heroes like Nebula. That’s what I was saying after I saw Endgame. Of course, I hadn’t seen the final season of Game of Thrones yet. There have been acres of pages written already about the treatment of Daenarys Targaryen and her rapid descent into ‘evil’ in the final season of Game of Thrones. I don’t want to re-hash them. I agree with most though. The ones that said the change came out of nowhere, the ones that maintained that Daenarys’ character was assassinated for no reason beyond shock value., the ones that said Drogon had the right idea when he burned down the Iron Throne. Through the words of Tyrion, Game of Thrones seemed to be trying to say that we always should have seen Daenarys as a villain, only we were looking at it from the
perspective of the conqueror. And, while that’s a good point to make, and an interesting way to tell a story, it’s not the viewpoint we were given for Daenarys’ decisions. We were always told that she was a conqueror. We were always told that she was ruling from a brutal perspective. However, we were shown her restraint, her agonising over hard decisions of ruling. More than anything else, we were shown Daenarys’ interest in serving justice and freeing innocents. In the final episode, she talks about wanting to ‘break the wheel’, something that became a catchphrase for her, but her actions show that she simply wanted to terrorize people with her power. It’s boring, lazy, and sloppy writing. Having Daenarys burn down Kings Landing
is a sloppy move. It’s sloppy, not shocking, because it goes against everything that we know about the character up to this point. She has unleashed the dragons in battle before, but that’s war. Here we see her way lay the innocents of King’s Landing, because, like a child she feels like throwing a tantrum. The writers treat it like a move that is unexpected and slick, but it just comes off needlessly gory and inexplicable. There is a contract between writers and readers/ viewers. It is cultural contract, where we take what we know about stories and feed them to the context of what we’re viewing. It’s what makes us judge stories for good or ill.
A story like Game of Thrones has proven itself to be unexpected in terms of traditional fantasy story telling, what with the deaths of characters like Ned and Robb Stark. However, if you think carefully about it, both of those deaths occurred because the characters who had control over them (King Joffrey Baratheon and Walder Frey) acted totally in-character! Exactly as their characters up to that point have been painted. It’s just unusual because we’re used to seeing the heroes win. We’re used to seeing them escape from despotic rulers and outsmart begrudging allies. So when the characters of GoT don’t escape it’s shocking within the cultural context. But it’s not shocking from the development of the characters up to that point. That’s what is so wrong with Danaerys’
rapid personality change in this season. It feels out of place because we’re basing it on seven seasons of knowledge of a character who no longer appears to be there. Even when Cersei blew up the Sept of Balor, we could see her motivations, and the immediate consequences of her actions. And this season she was reduced to staring out of a window. Like with Black Widow’s death, I’m not arguing that Danaerys couldn’t have become an evil character, that the power she was so dedicatedly accumulating over the eight seasons couldn’t have corrupted her. But it can’t be something that happens over the course of three episodes and then have the writers try to say it was going there all along. That kind of character change is something that has to be laid out carefully, delicately, so the viewers have a roadmap of changes they can look back on. It’s not something that can be rolled out for ‘shock value’.
These characters were powerful beacons for fangirls over the last ten years. Their presence in their respective series has created new fans all over the world and has led to the inclusion of more female characters, and the greenlighting of more female led shows. That is important. This may have led some of their writers to think that it doesn’t matter if they change or die, because we have lots of other female characters to fill the void. But instead, it just leaves a bad taste in our mouths. It makes us think that ultimately we’re the ones who cared about these characters more than the men who were writing them. Because while we may have killed off Natasha Romanov and we may have let Danaerys turn evil, we wouldn’t have done it just for shock value or to make the menfolk of the two series feel something. These women deserved more. They deserved better.
Sign Language Cinders
This month we are continuing our regular feature, learning Irish Sign language with Aisling OĘźHalloran. This issue we looked at some of the most important phrases in sign - those to to with emergency and help. Be aware that this is just a basic introduction to a vibrant language. If you would like to find out more about ISL log on to www.irishdeafsociety.ie.
Help and aid
There are so many inspiring and incredible women from history and we want to keep on educating ourselves about their lives. This month we look at some of our favourite pioneering explorers, writers, feminists and heroes.
GRACE BREWSTER MURRAY HOPPER (née Murray December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scien�st and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language s�ll in use today.
SACAGAWEA SACAGAWEA was a Lemhi Shoshone woman who helped the Lewis and Clark Expedi�on in achieving their chartered mission objec�ves by exploring the Louisiana Territory. Sacagawea traveled with the expedi�on thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean. She helped establish cultural contacts with Na�ve American popula�ons in addi�on to her contribu�ons to natural history.She was inducted into the Na�onal Women's Hall of Fame in 2003.
MARY SHELLEY MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY was an English novelist who wrote the Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Roman�c poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the poli�cal philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecra�.Un�l the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish her husband's works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adapta�ons. Studies of her lesser-known works, such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy and the biographical ar�cles for Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia , support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a poli�cal radical throughout her life.
MARIE STOPES MARIE STOPES was a Bri�sh author, palaeobotanist and campaigner for eugenics and women's rights. She made significant contribu�ons to plant palaeontology and coal classifica�on, and was the first female academic on the faculty of the University of Manchester. With her second husband, Humphrey Verdon Roe, Stopes founded the first birth control clinic in Britain. Stopes edited the newsle�er Birth Control News, which gave explicit prac�cal advice. Her sex manual Married Love was controversial and influen�al, and brought the subject of birth control into wide public discourse. Stopes publicly opposed abor�on, arguing that the preven�on of concep�on was all that was needed, though her ac�ons in private were at odds with her public pronouncements.
MARY JANE SEACOLE MARY JANE SEACOLE was a Bri�sh-Jamaican business woman and nurse who set up the "Bri�sh Hotel" behind the lines during the Crimean War. She described this as "a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers", and provided succour for wounded servicemen on the ba�lefield.Coming from a tradi�on of Jamaican and West African "doctresses", Seacole used herbal remedies to nurse soldiers back to health. She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004 she was voted the greatest black Briton.
BOOK VIEW RECORNER WE ARE BLOOD AND THUNDER crackles onto the YA scene with force and power. Following the trend of powerful female characters (and long may it last!), Lena and Constance are two girls with problems. One is running for her life and the other is trying to return home. Both are looking for a place where they belong. But what Lena and Constance don’t realise is that there is a magical power that connects them both. Without it, neither can achieve her goals. We are Blood and Thunder is a juggernaut of a fantasy, with exquisitely detailed world building and a well thought out system of magic. One for the fantasy lovers out there.
Zoe Marrio� is no stranger to the fantasy genre, with a par�cular affinity for the fairy-tale retelling. The Hand, The Eye and The Heart takes a fresh look at the genre, taking inspira�on from the Chinese legend of Mulan. But this is by no means Disney’s version of Mulan. Instead we are taken on a nuanced and though�ul journey with Zhi, who, although they were assigned female at birth and named Zhilan, when civil war hits, dresses as a man, and joins the army save their father. But posing as a boy is just the beginning of the challenges that face Zhi, who ends up with the fate of the na�on res�ng upon them while also trying to understand who they truly are. Zhi’s story is a wonderful interpreta�on of the tradi�onal ‘girl poses as boy’ soldier story and adds a new layer to it that is representa�ve and fresh. Told in Marrio�’s affec�ng and empathe�c style, The Hand, the Eye and the Heart is a story that has a deserving and important place on bookshelves today.
It is well and truly the season of the witch in Ireland right now. What with the release of Sarah Maria Griffin’s Other words for Smoke earlier this year and Moira Fowley Doyle’s All the Bad Apples coming out later on this year, there are teenage witches to be had in every corner of Ireland! Perfectly Preventable Deaths fits into this category perfectly (pardon the pun!) giving the readers a fresh interpreta�on of magic and folklore in Ireland of today. PPD follows twin sisters Madeline and Catlin who move to the aptly named Ballyfrann (look it up!) with their mother and her new husband. It’s a place where young women have been disappearing for over 50 years. And the longer Madeline and Catlin are in Ballyfrann, the more secrets they find the place is hiding. Catlin isn’t as interested in life in Ballyfrann as Madeline is though, she’s met a new and mysterious guy, Lon and she’s quickly becoming infatuated with him. Despite Madeline’s increasing worries about their rela�onship, she finds her sister dri�ing further and further away. No stranger to wonderful, magical fic�on, Deirdre Sullivan conquers in this story filled with powerful women and compelling teenagers. You won’t be able to put it down.
You’re crushing it! That’s what social media star Lex Croucher wants you to remember. In You’re Crushing It Lex puts together something of a survival guide for young people, one I can honestly say I wish was around when I was in my forma�ve years. Filled with down to earth advice on how to embrace your real ‘unedited’ life. She speaks to the unreality of social media presences and celebrity lifestyle and repeats again and again the importance of not comparing yourself to others - all the while finding humour and fun in every sentence. In her funny, direct, manner, Lex gives the reader posi�ve affirma�ons for the real world. Her tone is never patronising, always warm and sheis the first to remind people that she has these feelings too. You’re Crushing It is an absolute key read for any teenagers - and a few adults could benefit loads from it too!
Cinders magazine received each of these books in exchange for an honest review
BOOK VIEW RECORNER by Méabh McDonnell
I HOLD YOUR HEART is a chilling, but important read. It tells the story of Gemma and Aaron. Gemma is a country star hopeful and Aaron is a computer programmer. When they meet, instant sparks fly. But as their rela�onship goes on, it grows more and more intense. Gemma has never felt like this with anyone, she feels seen, she feels loved. But the more �me she spends with Aaron, the more he wants to control her, the more he wants to know about her whereabouts. Very quickly Gemma feels like their rela�onship has taken over her en�re life, but she doesn’t want to get out either. I hold your heart is a perfect depic�on of a dangerous, coercive rela�onship. It is one that is important for young teenage girls to read - but doesn’t hold back when it comes to the harrowing depic�on of Aaron’s manipula�on and control. Definitely one for ‘Older readers’, I Hold your Heart will stay with readers long a�er they have le� it behind. á
With last year’s The Wren Hunt, Mary Watson stormed on to the Irish YA scene showcasing a thrilling unique voice and a frightening premise. She returns this year with sequel, The Wicker Light. Sucking you in from the first second, The Wickerlight has the same irresis�ble power that coursed through The Wren Hunt. Joining Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin and Deirdre Sullivan’s Perfectly Preventable Deaths, The Wickerlight jumps on the Irish fantasy trend of sister witches and does so with real brilliance. Zara’s family moved to Kilshamble for a fresh start, but everything was changed when her sister Laila was found dead on the village green. Now, Zara is determined to get to the bo�om of Laila’s death, and find out how it connects to the mysteries that surround her new found home. Zara’s story leaps off the page and takes you down into the familiar world of The Wren Hunt. Perfect for teen fantasy fans looking for something different. Cinders magazine received each of these books in exchange for an honest review
“We’re connected, as women. It’s like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates, if there’s trouble, we all know it, but most of the time we’re just too scared, or selfish, or insecure to help. But if we don’t help each other, who will?” Sarah Addison Allen “A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double.” Toni Morrison “For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.” Christina Rossetti “For Some Reason, I Have Better Luck When I Work With Women. I Guess I Have A Good Sense Of Sisterhood.” Dolly Parton “Help one another is part of the religion of our sisterhood.” Louisa May Alcott “I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” Maya Angelou “The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them.” Marilyn Monroe “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” C.S. Lewis